During this midwinter season, many cultures light the darkness with festivals of light, religious celebrations, new year celebrations, and parties and gatherings of all kinds. Some of these celebrations have deep, deep roots, while others are new, soon-to-be traditions not even a generation long.
As an example of a festival of lights on the move, I have noticed that the tradition of lighting luminarias, candles in paper bags or other containers, has spread to my area recently. One of my uncles, an extremely nice man but not someone I would expect to be embracing multi-cultural celebrations, has spent Christmas Eve the last several years lighting candles in jars and setting one on each grave in the cemetery of his very small town.
The specifics of each celebration can be moving, but I love the beautiful flow of love, happiness, and connection between them all. In the ebb and flow of the year, the celebrations provide such a reliable lightness in the middle of the darkness.
Nature Mom lives in the country. On a night just before Christmas, she and her neighbors light a bonfire, bring potluck dishes, and share a lot of hot chocolate and mashmallows. Celebrations and traditions build within families, neighborhoods, and cultures.
Some have been, are, or will be lighting a Yule log for Thor, tending the fire through the long solstice night, lighting a menorah during Hanukkah, lighting Diwali lamps, or just setting off fireworks for the new year.
If you are up tonight awaiting the rebirth of a sun god or just preparing a list of Festivus grievances to take advantage of insomnia, I wish love and light for you and your family.
Create your own community celebration with luminaries
Simple luminarias common across the U.S. southwest are made with just a paper bag, an inch or so of sand in the bottom, and a lit votive candle set in the sand. Children can help with these if supervised. Luminarias can line a path, be set in a pattern, or just be a few flames to illuminate the night.